tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN September 25, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
tremendous numbers in tariffs and helping our farmers targeted and by the way now china is starting to buy our agricultural product and the beef and all of the different things, pork. very big on pork. but if you look and if you see and they actually put out i think a statement, but they're starting very heavy by our ag again. they want to make a deal and they should want to make a deal and the question is do we want to make a deal. >> if umsc doesn't pass through congress, is that it for nafta? >> that is a same. i don't want to answer that question because you know how i feel about nafta. i think nafta is the worse trade deal ever made but i think the world trade organization was not one of the greats. not one of the greats. that was the creation of china which went like a rocket ship from the day they signed. it was -- it was terrible. but, no, we're going to find out. that is going to be a very interesting question. with nancy and chuck and all of
these people focusing on the witch hunt, because they can't beat us at the ballot. they can't beat us at the ballot and they're not going to win the presidential. we have great polls. internal polls. ohio, iowa, pennsylvania is looking good. north carolina. we just won two races that a lot of people we thought would lose both of those races. one was down 17 points three weeks before the rasz and he ended up winning by a substantial margin. by a substantial margin. and dan bishop -- and then we had a second race as you know. and he was up one or two points and he ended up winning by what was it? 25 points or some incredible -- i'll ask you folks because i don't want to be inaccurate otherwise i'll have a front page story. we have breaking news, trump exaggerated but he won by many, many points and leading by maybe two or three but he won by in the 20s. so it's been so -- so we're looking great in north carolina.
looking great in florida. and you had one or two congressmen, democrats, saying, listen, we can't beat them at the election so let's impeach him. right? didn't you hear al green, that is a beauty. he's a real beauty that guy. but he said very distinctively, it was all over the place, i don't know, they're trying to lose that tape i guess, but he said we -- essentially he said we can't beat them. let's impeach him. that's pretty dangerous stuff. steve, go ahead. >> thank you, sir. you had compressed some concerns about the president of releasing the transcript -- >> yeah -- >> why did you go ahead and do it. >> because i was getting such fake news and i thought it would be better and now they're asking for the first phone conversation and i'll release that too if it is important to you. because i had a conversation previous on a previous election plateau that he had hit.
the current president hit a couple of different plateaus and i spoke to him previous to the call that we released. which was a very innocent call. very, very innocent, very nice call. and as he said, i wasn't pushed. i wasn't pushed. meaning pressured. he wasn't pressured at all. but i don't like the concept of releasing calls because when a president or a prime minister or a king or a queen calls the united states, you don't like to say, gee, we're going to release your call to the fake news media and they're going to make you look like a fool. what happens is it is hard to do business that way. you wouldn't -- you want to have people feel comfortable so i hated it. but you folks were saying such lies. such horrible things about a call that was so innocent and so nice. in fact, lindsey graham said to me when he read it, very interesting, it is a good man, he's a smart man, he said i can't believe it. i never knew you could be this really nice to a person.
he said, i cannot believe it. you were so -- i didn't think you had that in you to be so nice. i was nice. i'm nice to a lot of people. people don't understand that. but i was. but he was shocked that it was such a nice call. he said there is nothing here. and all fair people say the same thing. but i don't like the precedent, steve, i don't like it where you're dealing with heads of state and to think that they're call is going to be released. but i felt that -- and you know, we spoke to ukraine about it. mike actually called up his counterpart and we spoke to ukraine about it because we wanted -- because it could have been -- if they didn't want us to do it, we would not have done it but he actually said that was a very innocent call. you can release it all you want. >> and are you now braise -- braced for air long impeachment saga? >> well i thought we won. i thought it was dead. the mueller report, no obstruction, no collusion, you look at all of the things that
happened. cory lewandowski was fantastic the other day as -- as a person that they have been tormenting. you look at all of the people that they've tormented. all of the legal fees. people came here with bright eyes, they wanted to make life so great for other people. and they left where they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees that they didn't have and it is a sad thing. what these db -- what these democrats have done to ruin lives is so sad. i've seen people with only good intention, came to washington because they wanted to make the united states and the world a better place and they went home and they were dark. they got hit by mueller subpoenas, i think there were 2500 subpoenas or some ridiculous number. 500 people were interviewed and yet they don't interview joe biden. and his son. if your a democrat, you have automatic protection. that is years and years of people putting in certain people
into positions. but when you look at all of the -- all of the trauma that these fakers have caused -- and the press, look, the press is much -- much of the press is not only fake, it is corrupt. these stories they write are corrupt. they're so wrong. and they know that. it used to be -- i used to get great press until i ran for politics. i was the king of getting good press and i was good at it. they covered me well otherwise i probably wouldn't be here and once i ran, i said, boy, this is incredible. but if you see the way they treat my family, used to be treated great. my family work so hard. the people that work with me, these people, all of these people, they work so hard. they've done such a -- look, we have the greatest economy we've ever had. we have a military $2.5 trillion. we've rebuilt the military. you don't hear the vets complaining. we got choice approved. it couldn't be approved. but when you see what happened
with the viciousness and when you see little adam schiff go out and lie and lie and stand at the mic. smart guy, by the way. stand at the mic and act like he's so serious and then go news a room with nadler and they must laugh their asses off. but it is so bad for our country. people have said, rush limbaugh, great man, sean hannity said it, a lot of people have said it. mark levin, they said they don't know if one man anywhere in the world with all of the men they know or woman that could handle what i've had to handle. and i think that's true. but i handle it. to me it is like putting on a suit. how about one more question. question on the economy. a question on the economy. go ahead. >> hi, mr. president. vpit from caracas, venezuela.
>> wow! how are you doing over there? >> pretty bad. our situation. >> i would say pretty bad. sad. >> but we are fighting. >> and it was one of the great countries, one of the richest countries not so long ago. 15 years ago. it is incredible. >> we are going to make it. >> right. i agree with that. and we're helping you. >> yeah. >> we're helping you. >> yeah, i know and thank you. >> go ahead. >> i have two questions to take advantage of this. maduro travelled to russia and -- to north korea. two of the most anning to onnist nations in the u.s. interest. what can be done to contain this? what are they looking for in that country and because they are special and -- mr. -- said the russians are willing to negotiate. this is one question and the other, mr. president, you say that the socialist is one of the biggest challenges.
you say yesterday in the united nations, but the region is far from safe. maduro is still a dictator full in power and in argentina and brazil are under threat about the socialist and populist, are you worried about it? >> well i just say that socialism will never happen in the united states. can't happen in the united states. and venezuela unfortunate i have to use your country as the example of what socialism can do. how it can tear the fabric of a country apart. because i know a lot about venezuela. i've had many, many friends of mine come from venezuela. they live many in miami. certain section of miami. i won't mention the name because they'll say i'm thinking about my business and i'm not. but they are fantastic people. and they like your president. they voted overwhelmingly for me and they like what i'm doing for venezuela. we have venezuela very much in our hearts. and very much in our sights. and we're watching it very
carefully. and you know what i would say, we're giving millions and millions of dollars in aid, not that we want to from the maduro standpoint, but we have to because on a humanitarian people -- people are dying. they have no food, they have no water, they have no nothing. they're dying. no medicine. their hospitals are closed or don't even have electricity. it is so sad to see. let me just say that we have it under control. we're watching it very carefully. and we're going to be very, very -- >> russia is -- >> we're watching it very carefully, including other countries that may or may not be playing games. we're watching it very closely. >> but you know if russia is talking with usa or guaido, what can you tell us? >> just put this in the back of your mind, it is all going to be fine. we know everything that you said and it is going to be fine. we're very much involved. we very much know what is going on. >> mr. president -- >> and we're very much in --
okay. thank you all very much. thank you. thank you very much. [ inaudible ]. >> so there you have the president of the united states, i'm wolf blitzer
here in "the situation room" and you've been watching the president giving his first news conference since the announcement of a formal impeachment inquiry against him here in washington. let's bring in our experts, john king among others. the president leveled several distortions and falsehoods in the course of that 40, 45 minutes. >> yes, he did. about joe biden and hunter biden and other facts around the investigations. to the most interesting part is how he did it. this president can be -- whether you agree or disagree could be compassion at and good communicator and defiant and that was a somber sulking president and if you need any proof that the last 24 hours are affecting the president's mood,
watch that press conference. yes he went after adam schiff and the democrats and yes he said the left is socialist and worse have taken over the democratic party but the way he said it with no energy and little passion sulking through it and it is proof we've had giant changes. just consider what happened in the last 24 hours. not just nancy pelosi putting the words formal impeachment impeachmentib -- impeachment inquiry but an administration that said no to almost every request from congress for months, no, no, and hell no has released the summary of this call, has sent up the whistle-blower complaint and going to send the direct yofr of national -- the acting director of national intelligent to cooperate tomorrow. the president hoped that would cut off the move for impeachment. hardly. it added momentum. this summary added momentum to it today. but a lot has changed in this town in 24 hours including the president's mood. >> he was very rambling news conference. opened with a lengthy statement but went from a whole bunch of subjects to domestic political
issues. >> but always coming back to himself and to what is going on with impeachment. and you know, a couple of things were interesting to me. number one, he continued to peddle conspiracy theories which we've seen him do throughout his entire presidency. he throws them out there like birtherism and stews the pot and lets it boil over and that is what he's doing with joe biden and then he tried to discredit the whistle-blower. we don't know who the whistle-blower is. he said at one point he didn't know who the whistle-blower is. i don't know if he knows now. but he said certain things have come out about the whistle-blower that are interesting. and kind of leaves it. kind of leaves it there. so he said i support transparency, i'm going to give you the first phone call, okay. that is -- that's good and then he went on and on complaining how could it be that the children of an elected official could use their parents stature to do business. how could a trump possibly say that. i have no idea.
but it was sort of stunning to me in a way that it all came back to him and the conspiracy for him was the democrats planned to do this during the u.n. meeting just to discredit him in front of all of his cohorts in foreign countries and that he was incredibly insulted by that. >> jim acosta is there at the news conference there in new york. and let's not forget, in the -- this summary that was released by the white house, the president specifically quoted as saying to the ukrainian president, i would like you to do us a favor and then goes into an investigation into the bidens and the democrats. >> reporter: that is right, wolf. and the president never really asked -- or answered the question. i tried to ask the question as he was walking out of the room, what did he mean by could you do us a favor and hener explained what he was talking about with respect to that question. and i think what you saw during
this press conference is the president is really just stewing with anger over all of this. he feels frustrated that the press largely over-looked what he did at the united nations general assembly but once again i think that responsibility lays at the president's feet. this was something that they were stonewalling congress on a week ago and then as soon as the house speaker nancy pelosi through down the gauntlet and threatened impeachment all of a sudden transcripts are being offered and now the whistle-blower complaint. one of the tidbits of news that i think we heard from the president during this press conference is when he said that whatever calls you want, whatever transcripts of -- of whatever calls you want involving the president and president zelensky of ukraine, the public could see those transcripts so that will be forth coming from the white house but at the same time when you heard the president talking about the prospect of impeachment it was almost as if he is welcoming that prospect. daring democrats to impeach him at this point. he thinks it is politically advantageous for him but i think
as we entered this press conference there were a whole slew of questions about what the president was up to in this phone call with the ukrainian president and whether or not just a sleazy news standard for presidential politics as been set. the president offered no apologies. that a president of the united states or any political candidate could go to a foreign government and ask for help to get dirt on a political opponent. the president offered no apologies, no regrets on that front and it sounds as though, listening to what the president said during the press conference, he would do it again, wolf. >> what are they saying behind the scenes at the white house about all of the decision this is week by the president and the senior advisers to go ahead and release this rough transcript for example, release the whistle-blower's complaint, at least on a confidential classified basis to the house and senate intelligence committee? >> reporter: wolf, it sounds as if there was a bit of a debate going on behind the scenes, you heard the president talking
about how mike pompeo had to talk to his ukrainian counterpart to make sure it was okay with that government to release this transcript. we do understand that the secretary of state was concerned about setting a new precedent for releasing these kinds of transcripts to the public because foreign leader in the future might have some qualms about speaking with the president over the phone if it runs the risk of being this publicized at some later date they can't talk candidly but you heard the president say he wanted to sort of clear the air and get this out of the way, but wolf, the president's own attitude i think spoke volumes throughout all of this. some of the other comments that he made that he sees this all as another witch hunt. talking to sources inside of the white house, sources who talk to the president and advisers and campaign and so on, and they see this as nothing more than mueller part two and while they were concerned earlier in the week perhaps this doesn't look good for the president and, yes, he has been worried about impeachment for several months now going back to when the democrats took the house, at this point it seems as though
they have gone to their battle stations and they're ride or die with this president. it doesn't matter what the democrats -- at this point even when it comes to a transcript that clearly shows the president sought help from a foreign government to get dirt on joe biden, wolf. >> it is interesting, at one point in the rough transcript the president tells president zelensky, whatever you do, if it is possible, he's referring to getting negative information or dirt on the bidens and the democrats and hillary clinton and her server and all of that. >> that is right. and this comes after the president essentially said -- that the united states is giving so much aid to the -- to ukraine, that they're giving much more aid than europe even though that is not actually true. and also after the president said there is not a lot of reciprocity in ukraine in terms of what the united states is doing for them and from there he essentially asked for a favor. listen, there is the focus from republicans on this idea of quid
pro quo and this memorandum of the call doesn't explicitly show a quid pro quo but if you talk to democrats, you heard from adam schiff today, he essentially said it doesn't matter if there is not a quid pro quo in the phone call, as well we know the white house -- that this whistle-blower complaint will have a fuller picture, right. you heard the president there, part of that picture is what he said in that first phone call, he also said that the vice president phone calls could be made available too. so we'll see what happens tomorrow when the acting dni talks more fully from this and we know obviously that people up on the hill at this point are looking at that whistle-blower complaint. so this is a president today that seemed defeated. if this a president energized by impeachment talk, he certainly didn't show that today. >> and -- >> hold on one second. i want jeffrey toobin to weigh in. go ahead. >> want to say a word about the
press conference. it was 40 minutes. and it was a torrent of lies. i mean just a torrent of lies. about joe biden, about hunter biden. about what the democrats did regarding ukraine. and it was a torrent of lies about the summary, what some people call the transcript of what was released today. the good thing about this document and whether it is a transcript or a summary and how much has been left out of it is the subject for another day. but what was released today showed that this president when he talked to the president of ukraine was not talking about the national interest. the only agenda he had for that phone call was to get information to defeat joe biden. that was his only agenda. and that is bad enough. but there was also the most obvious and clear evidence of a
quid pro quo about the military aid that the president of ukraine badly wanted. and what did -- what did the president say when the -- when the president of ukraine said we want that military aid and we're going to buy the javelin missiles. what did he say? he said i want you to do me a favor. you know what that means? it means he wanted him to do him a favor. and that is a quid pro quo. >> but having said all of that, now that we're seven hours into being able to digest this summary, transcript in quotes intentionally, what we have is something that has defined the trump era which is it is a political rorschach test. and how you read the truth has -- it is so depends on where you stand. which might seem like, dah, in today's political environment but it wasn't that clear-cut
when you guys were at the white house covering the clinton impeachment. yes, of course it was incredibly partisan but some people said whoa, whoa, whoa on the democratic side. and in this case what you have is a president who, yes, he said so many things that were -- he just throws things out there, makes things up, talks about things that are absolutely not substantiated and what defined him pre-presidenty talking about barack obama not being a u.s. citizen and the reason he does it because it works. because it works. he got out there in a coordinated way and defined the narrative for his base, for fox news, for conservative radio for his people on capitol hill and it is that versus the democrats and what i have also found interesting is talking to house democrats especially yesterday who put their neck on the line politically to say, okay, let's
go for this impeachment inquiry, they wanted to make sure that democrats could match that rhetorically message-wise and at least some people i'm talking to think that having adam schiff out there is helping. >> i want to get david axelrod's thoughts on all of this. and david, you worked in the white house. this five-page document that the white house released today, it is not called a transcript. it is called a memorandum of telephone conversation. and then there is a note on page one, caution, a memorandum of a telephone conversation is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion. basically said these are the notes and recollections of senior staff members on the ncs and the situation room over at the white house. but react to that and then give us your thoughts. >> well my thought, first of all, it is not customary to release transcripts of conversations with foreign leader with the president. but what is stunning about this was that this summary itself was
damning. forget about transcripts. this is what they released as their account of what happened and what happened is what has been described. but i also want to pick up on what dana said because the president is using his very, very large bull horn and hissance i hissance ill ---ance illary fox and social media to amplify his themes and you do see republicans falling right in line. and it does remind you of when the president said he could shoolt -- could shoot someone on fifth avenue and his base would stick with him and you get the sense if he did shoot someone on fifth avenue that lindsey graham and others would rush to the scene and say it is a case of self defense. it is going to be a very partisan discussion sadly because what was in that document should be of concern to
people in both parties and no party. >> it certainly should be. i want to bring in congressman mike quigley, a democrat and member of the house intelligence committee. congressman, thanks so much for joining us. i understand you just came from the secure room up on capitol hill. you now had a chance to read the whistle-blower complaint. what could you tell us? >> you know, on the way up the stairs, i was thinking b -- about what your person said, what the president said on the campaign that he could shoot someone and his base would stay with him and what i read was the political equivalent of that, defining the constitution, committing a criminal act and thinking well i can get away with it. some sort of bizarre cult of personality. deeply disturbing what we read this morning. alarming. we enforced to an extraordinary magnitude by the report that we've just read. >> you read the obviously the
summary, the rough transcript that the white house released but now you've read the whistle-blower complaint. first of all, how long is this document? >> well, here is what i can say about it. it is extraordinarily detailed and it is very, very well done. at this point in time it is still classified. i think the white house is trying to major figure out what it can or cannot -- what it wants to release. we would argue that it is not their call. that this was something sent -- meant to be sent to us in the first place. but those living in realtime right now, i think those actions and those decisions are being made right now. >> i know you can't release sensitive classified information. but does the whistle-blower complaint echo what we've seen from this rough log of the phone conversation that the president had with president zelensky of ukraine. >> i can't detail that it involves any call -- i can't detail what it involves period.
i will tell people that it is deeply disturbing. it reinforces the concerns that what we previously learned and i think it is a blueprint for what we still need to know. it lays out exactly what congress needs to investigate. i think it reinforces two things. the courage of this whistle-blower and the fact that if a whistle-blower is not -- is blocked in the manner in which dlj and the acting dni did, two bad things happen. things leak, which we've unfortunately seen and that is not good. or a wrongdoing goes unpunished. i heard my republican colleagues on the floor say today, what are you complaining about? you got the transcript. you're getting the report. they're going to testify. we'll have the complaint. the only reason we know about this at all is because a complainting witness had the courage to come forward. >> and you've heard what the
president has said about the whistle-blower, the intelligence official who issued this complaint and what his supporters are saying as well. that he's just some sort of pro-democratic political hack. i want you to respond to that. >> i think if the american people will be patient and let all of this information come out in its totality, they will understand the truth of this and why it is important. i think when you ask that question, i'm reminded that in the real world that we're living in now, as polarized as this country is, that the new maxim ought to be i'll see when i believe it. people will believe what they want. i can only hope that at least the middle ground of america, the ones that decide the -- split the difference will look at this in totality and appreciate that the president has continued to commit high
crimes and misdemeanors. it did fin -- it did begin with the mueller investigation and there is so much more to be investigated but the actions that we read about this morning took place literally right after the mueller testimony, the mueller report. what does that tell snu the president's never been held accountable for his wrongdoing and if he thinks that -- he apparently thought that the special counsel didn't ding him sufficient so he could go on to higher crimes and higher misdemeanors. >> in this lengthy 11-page document that the justice department released from the assistant attorney general office of legal counsel steven engle, he suggested that the whistle-blower complaint focused largely on that one phone conversation between the president of the united states and the president of ukraine, the rough summary of which we got earlier in the day. is that true? is it simply based on that or was there a lot more in the whistle-blower complaint? >> you know, i'm going to follow the rules even though they're not. this is still a classified
document. so the white house could selectively try to control the spin on stuff, as they did with the special counsel's report, when as you recall -- mr. barr lied about what was in that report. and i'll tell you all -- all i can tell you is they are doing the very same thing here. let's let this report get out and let congress continue this investigation. i only ask that middle america to watch this. if you don't have a -- necessarily have a belief on this, let the truth come out. this is extraordinarily important. >> well, on that point, congressman, if it does come out, if it is released based on what you just read in that secure room on capitol hill, do you believe it would have an impact on the american public as far as impeachment of the president is concerned? >> look, the american people have -- about 3% read the special counsel report. millions more watched the special counsel testify. millions more will be able to
watch the testimony that we're going to see beginning tomorrow. i do think it will have an impact on the americans who haven't already made up their mind. we're counting on them to lead this country forward. >> you think it could easily be declassified or is there really very sensitive national security secrets in there which if released could undermine what the intelligence community they call sources and methods? >> it is hard to tell. i do think that the classify -- declassification process should go very, very quickly on this. i think it ought to be available for mass consumption very soon. we'll see what kind of games the white house play as they've done before. >> do you think it would have an impact once it is declassified and released, do you think it will have an impact on some of your republican colleagues in the house and senate? >> i think it does personally. look, they can disagree. but i think privately they have to ask their selves what kind of president are we dealing with?
i think they represent america to an extent and that is there are those that will go along with the president no matter what he says or does. but i do think that there is a group of republicans that find the president -- look at what speaker ryan said after he left. the profiles encourage our absence and do you think most of them find the president's actions to be extraordinarily objectionable. >> if you could come up with one word to describe what you read in the whistle-blower complaint, what would it be? >> disturbing. >> disturbing is an important word. when you have a chance to read that rough transcript of the president's conversation in july with president zelensky, what stood out to you from that conversation? >> first i didn't necessarily trust it in its entirety because the president seems to be able to change the truth as he did with a hurricane. and given how long the conversation was supposed to have taken place, the transcript
is much shorter. so my first reaction is i don't negligence -- i don't necessarily trust them. if this is the purified redacted version, it is still awfully damning. >> will point out in the memorandum released that said the phone conversation on july 25th went from 9:03 a.m. to 9:33 a.m. that is a half an hour. 30 minutes. it is a five-page single spaced document that was released, that would be a lot less. but i must tell you that the white house officials are suggesting that zelensky spoke in ukrainian and as a result there was consecutive translation and that could have expanded the sense of the kofrgs. stand by for a minute. adam schiff, the chairman of your committee is speaking. >> the department of justice would have intervened to prevent it from getting to congress, throws the leadership of that department into further ill repute. but again i want to thank the whistle-blower and let the
whistle-blower know that we are going to do everything possible to protect you. thank you. >> does this have to do with the ukrainian -- [ inaudible question ] >> so there you hear the chairman of the house intelligence committee clearly also read the document like congressman mike quigley has read the whistle-blower complaint. it is secret for the time being. we'll see how quickly it takes to declassify it and release it to the american people. sean turner, you used to work in the intelligence community for the director of national intelligence. what goes through your mind as you see these remts unfo -- the developments unfold so quickly today. >> a couple of things, wolf. one, as i listen to what the congressman said there, look, i think it is really clear that what the president has done here, whether he wants to admit it or not, he has solicited foreign involvement in the u.s. -- in a u.s. election. he does understand that as americans we -- we don't want any type of interference in our
election. i worked at director of national intelligence for almost four years and during that time i cannot remember a single instance when under james clapper, the former dni when the inspector general at the time james mccaul forwarded an urgent whistle-blower complaint to members of congress and what that should tell everyone is that the i.g. sees this is a very high bar for an urgent complaint and what people should understand is that because that has not happened in the past, that when the i.g. does that, what he's saying to members of congress is that this is the kind of thing that we think that you need to respond to immediately. and so i think that for everyone looking at this and kind of said, well, maybe there is something here, maybe there isn't, people should understand that as an experienced i.g., this. >> -- he thought it was important to say this is something to be addressed right now. >> i'm anxious to get bianna's
comments. very rapidly. >> this is a david and goliath type of situation when you look at the predicament president zelensky is in right now. he's president of the poorest country and put in this position where this transcript has been released out to the public where he along with president trump bad mouth and trash other european countries who, by the way, have given ukraine billions of dollars. we're now getting word that he didn't believe that his part of the transcript was going to be released. he started walking back some of his comments and thanking other european countries as well. but for the president to say, oh, no, you see what he just said, he didn't feel pressured, one has to wonder what else could he have said in a situation like that. he is a new politician who ran on an anti-corruption campaign and you have the president of the united states calling him and soliciting not only his personal attorney, but the attorney general of the united states not to help him in -- in getting rid of previously
corrupt politicians and the department of justice heads and focus on who he's going to bring in. no, he is soliciting they come and help him on a previous prosecutor who was fired who was known to be a corrupt prosecutor. all in bid to get more information on joe biden. so he is in this untenable position and you have to think of other world leaders who say my conversations with the president may not be classified as well so from a national security standpoint, this is a big hit to the united states and to ukraine. ukraine now has had between the russian war with ukraine, some 13,000 people have died over the past five years. i can't help but think that vladimir putin is very happy about the turn of events right now because this is not a good day for president zelensky and you see the chaos this caused here in the united states as well. >> not in a good day for president zelensky but also not
a very good day for president trump of the united states. are you surprised, and i'm a bit surprised, that given all of the damning information in this rough transcript, clearly what congressman quigley said, all of the damning information in the still very secret whistle-blower complaint, are you surprised that the president -- i assume in the end he had to authorize the release of these documents. >> not surprised because it was inevitable once the democrats put the word impeachment on the inquiry that they would subpoena these documents and there is no recourse if you have a formal impeachment proceeding for the administration with holding them so instead of providing them to the democrats as exhibit a. and exhibit b., the president can now try to say he's being transparent and he was forced to be transparent and not just because of the democrats. we've had a conversation throughout the day that most republicans are telling the -- towing the white house republican line and there is no there there and the republicans have conveyed that the whothe president and the white house
need to get ahead of this and they don't view this as acceptable presidential behavior and you have a summary, not a transcript but a summary, in which the president brings up aid, asks for a favor and talks about biden and something we haven't talked about and asked the president of ukraine to request help from the united states attorney general. democrats say, whether there is a quid pro quo, the president links aid to the request for a favor, that democrats say is an abuse of power and asking a foreign government to ask for government help and then a leak and ukraine asks justice department for help on biden investigation even if there is no there there. that is one thing chtd and now you have the whistle-blower complaint which now is classified and in private as least parts tv will come into the public. impeachment is a political process but it is a trial. so you have evidence a. you have the whistle-blower complaint, evidence b. from the documents then you start calling in witnesses including the whistle-blower and rudy giuliani and including additional documents like the president's first call and other witnesses. so as the democrats -- it is a
risky business. but they are now on a path to impeach this president and you're beginning to see today the building blocks of their evidence. >> can i just say, the bottom line here for donald trump is it is clear he thinks he did nothing wrong. everything we read in this -- he's like, so what? i did it. so what if i did it? these are conversations he had as head of the trump organization with people cutting deals all of the time. he wasn't explicit as michael cohen called it the code. we knew what he was asking us to do. he didn't have to come out and do it. this is the way donald trump has behaved for decades. and becoming president of the united states has not changed him. i don't think he understands or cares to understand that he occupies a different perch now. as president he cannot do these things. so today what was stunning to me also in an earlier availability he had with the president of ukraine, he was defending rudy giuliani. he said i love his passion. and he said rudy has every right
to find out where all of this started. all of these conspiracies that he's talking about. and so you step back and you look at this picture and it is donald trump and his buddy rudy giuliani as it was during the mueller probe and they're cooking this up -- and they're doing it together. >> and there is a reason for that. and that is because he knows that his friend rudy giuliani is -- >> by the way, we have some live pictures coming in. nancy pelosi, the speaker, going into the secure room skiff to read this document, the whistle-blower complaint like several other key members of the house are doing right now. i assume the same thing is going on in the senate. >> that is right. what i was saying is that he knows that giuliani is like a comic azi pilot and from his perspective the greater good is getting all of this stuff about joe biden and his son into the ether, allowing republicans to talk about making it so fox news talks about it and making it so the super-pacs out there cut the ads
they have started to do today to get on the air in order to try to hurt the person they think is going to be his number one problem if he's the democratic nominee. right or wrong, that is what they think at this point and that is joe biden. >> and i guess the question with that scenario is how much collateral damage do they do to donald trump in the meantime. over the last few days you've seen a slew of democrats get off the side lines and call for the impeachment inquiry that call very damaging to this president in terms of the light it puts him in. essentially bringing up aid and then asking for a favor. so we don't know. there is -- there is this conventional wisdom the president wanted this, that he feels like this is going to energize his base and bind this republican party to the president but what you saw today kevin mccarthy was asked in the hallway about this call and i wasn't too eager to come before cameras and talk about this. this is an unfortunate set of facts for republicans. it is a little different than
what we saw with the mueller probe, over two years, a slow-burning fire. this is like a wildfire. it is completely new and completely easy for people to understand. this is five pages. the mueller report was much longer. not many people read that. so we'll see. this is -- this is obviously a gamble for rudy giuliani. we'll see how many other people join him. obviously lindsey graham has but we'll see. >> go ahead, david. >> yeah, well just as to the point that gloria was making, i've said this before, donald trump is spent his life skirting rules and laws and he is an expert at laying out the quid and the quo. he's a pro at laying out the quid and the quo and letting you figure out the connections. and the other thing he obviously knows how to do is send emissaries to fill in the blanks if necessary. i think there is a lot of -- of interest in what rudy giuliani's conversations exactly were and why did he choose giuliani and not, say, a government official to come in and deliver the word on what they were looking for
here. i think it is pretty obvious that he was there to fill in the blanks. >> yep. >> let me get jeffrey toobin to weigh in. what do you think? >> rudy giuliani said he worked with the state department on this and it would be certainly very interesting to know who at the state department and what was said. but i just like to call attention to the issue of attorney general william barr. he is in choorj -- he is in charge of the justice department today and leading an effort to keep all of the documents secret, the whistle-blower request, the transcript, for other reasons they became public but his legal position was they should remain secret. they come to the public and we see that the attorney general is at the heart of the president's appeal to the president of the ukraine. the president is saying you gotta talk to my attorney general. you got to get my attorney general involved in this.
how is it even conceivable that he is not recused from anything -- >> you make an excellent point, jeffrey. and let me read a line from the rough transcript. this is the president speaking to president zelensky. i'll have mr. giuliani give you a call and i'm also going to have attorney general barr call and we will get to the bottom of it. the bottom of all of the conspiracy theories the president is leveling against the bidens, leveling against hillary clinton and the democrats. so make the case, why do you think the attorney general right now needs to recuse himself from this current investigation? >> because the heart of the accusation against donald trump from -- that has arisen in the last week is that he has had an improper, unconstitutional relationship, effort in terms of his interactions with the government of ukraine. a key part of his effort to get dirt from the government of
ukraine on his political opponent joe biden is to get the government of ukraine to talk to his attorney general. to provide that information to the attorney general. how can the attorney general possibly supervise an investigation in which he's clearly a witness? >> he said he wasn't informed about it. he said he didn't know -- >> that is interesting. >> remember what happen totd last attorney general who recused himself from an investigation. >> that is a sad story. but jeff sessions did the right thing. >> right. >> absolutely. >> and anyone knows anything about the recusal rules of the -- of the american legal system knows jeff sessions did the right thing. >> exactly. >> donald trump thought he did the wrong thing. and he's not going to want -- >> jeffrey toobin, i don't think you should hold your breath and wait for the attorney general to recuse himself. >> but that doesn't make it right. >> what is disturbing to me when the president said to president
zelensky, i'll have the attorney general barr get to the bottom of it and he said in the next sentence, you're economy is going to get better and better i predict. is that a coincidence that follows the suggestion that he'll have these guys call him. >> far be it from me to follow exactly the thought process of the president of the united states. but the whole context of the conversation is if you help me get information on joe biden, good things will follow. military aid, an improved economy. that is called a quid pro quo. that is the entire context of this conversation. and anyone who reads it can't possibly have any alternative view. >> let me get bianna to weigh in. go ahead. you got serious thoughts on all of this. >> so many thoughts, wolf. so much of that made 0.0 sense
and here is why. here is one reason. you talk about the president's new focus on corruption. let's just go back and look at timeline. this president approved money, military aid to ukraine at the end of 2017 with no strings attached and in that announcement. it wasn't oh, if you get rid of corruption we'll do the following and give you this amount of money. congress then approved it. then you have elections in ukraine in may. in may. so you have a new president come in. joe biden announces that he's running for president of the united states in april. come may all of a sudden rudy giuliani finds himself in ukraine. mind you, this is a new ukrainian president who ran on anti-corruption. you heard in the presser with the president that he was focused on looking forward. a clean slate. draining the swamp. words that he knows the president is very familiar with. yet the president all of a sudden since joe biden announced that he would be running for president is focused on getting rid of corruption in ukraine.
it really makes little sense. >> pamela brown is over at the white house for us. and just remind us, pamela, because you've been doing a lot of reporting on this, why did the white house and the president think it was in the president and the white house's best interest to release this rough transcript? >> reporter: well that is the key question here, wolf. because remember initial lir our reporting was that the white house had been advising dna to not turn over the information such as the transcript, the whistleblower complaint to congress and then of course this was a big change do -- to release this conversation with the head of state and sources say in is-- initially the president thought this would take heat off of him and undercut the democrats' argument that he had something to hide. that may have backfired given the fallout over this conversation that the president had with president zelensky back in july and what is interesting as the fallout continues an talking to sources they are saying our arms were twisted, that there was just too much
pressure from the media and from democrats really we had no choice here even though this is a bad idea. others say this was in the interest of transparency, that the institutional concerns were weighed and that wanted to be transparent here, now, republicans are focused on the lack of inexplicit quid pro quo but that is also debatable, giving fic , zelensky had brought up military aid, defense, and the president then went on to say i would like you to do us a favor, though, and there has been a big divide in the white house, controversy over the release of this transcript with zelensky, but at the same time, wolf, battle lines are drawn, republicans, allies of the president are very much defending him tonight. the campaign has put out statements trying to fund raise out of all of this, and so they are very much pushing the idea
out now that the president is a victim, and we heard that from the president himself during the press conference that he really views himself as a victim in all of this, wolf. >> it's interesting, john king, that congressman mike wigley, he emerged from that severe room having read the whistle blower complaint, suggesting in response to my question, he thinks it eventually will have an impact on republicans going down this impeachment process. what do you think? >> it's an interesting question. you and i covered an impeachment a long time ago. that you could trace the seeds of this polarization to the clinton administration, and now the seeds of polarization is on steroids or worse. we need to have patience, the american people need to have patience. the people out there watching need to have patience. will they have that patience, everything is built, ring the bell, go to your corner. you're pro trump, anti-trump. that's when his allies are trying to do today. can the democrats have a disciplined approach to this to
counter the trump leaf blower defense strategy. a leaf blower is loud and annoying distracts you, blows everything in the air, hyperbole, lies, misstatements, can the democrats push through that to make their case, this is the president linking aid to the investigation of joe biden. this is the president trying to get his attorney general involved in this. make a case that is viewed as impartial, even if it's going to be led by democrats. democrats are for impeachment, republicans are not. can they convince the middle of america there's something here. we need to step back, be patience and listen. >> this is why the hearings are so important. >> david, one second, gloria. >> this is why the hearings are so important. for example, the former ambassador of the ukraine, whom the president trashed in his phone conversation and recalled, she was a career diplomat, and she was recalled and he trashed her to the ukrainian president,
why was that, is she going to testify, what did she know about what rudy giuliani was doing over there, did she try and stop it. there are lots of ways to unspool this story and it's up to the democrats to make that story and make it digestible to the american public. >> david, go ahead. >> a couple of points, auone, a to what john said, the thing that broke this open politically was when those seven freshmen members who had been in the national security community came forward because they all come from district where is donald trump did relatively well in 2016. they were elected in 2018. they have been the most reluctant to step forward on this impeachment talk, and they felt moved to step forward. if there is a backlash to what the democrats are doing, they are the ones who are going to feel it first. and yet they step forward. the second point is to pamela's
point, you know, the notion that the president did this to -- out of institutional concerns, release the statement out of institutional concerns. if this president, given his history released this for institutional concerns, it is truly a historic day. >> very quickly, there are some democrats who are still nervous. >> there are democrats who are still nervous. there are democrats who felt nancy pelosi rushed into the impeachment inquiry, and now they are digesting more information. >> everybody stand by there's a lot more we're following. the breaking news continues. we' going to talk to another congressman who just saw the whistle blower complaint against president trump. it's just not right. but with sofi, you can get your credit cards right - by consolidating your credit card debt into one monthly payment. you can get your interest rate right -
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happening now, breaking news, do us a favor, a rough transcript reveals president trump's own words as he pressed ukraine's leader to investigate joe biden. top impeachment investigators are calling it damming and shocking evidence of a shake down. reading the complaint, members of congress are now reviewing details about a whistleblower's concerns that expose the president's attempts to pressure ukraine. we're getting new reaction to
the complaint that's being described as alarming. in denial. tonight the president insisting he did nothing wrong lashing out at opponents and spewing unsubstantiated allegations. how is he dealing with the growing danger of impeachment. and ask rudy. mr. trump dodges questions about his personal lawyer's involvement in urging ukraine to investigate biden. rudy giuliani, playing a central role in the newest scandal engulfing the president. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world, i'm wolf blitzer, you're in the situation room. >> this is cnn breaking news. >> we are following breaking news on the ukraine scandal that launched a formal impeachment investigation against president trump, the whistleblower complaint that started it all is now in the hands of congress and it's being reviewed by lawmakers right now. one democrat telling me the details are deeply